I felt the blood drain from my face. There could be no worse way to meet my new father-in-law than this. I took a deep breath and tried to smile at him, but he didn’t smile back. He then turned his gaze to his son.
Slowly, as if he was moving in a dream, Luca stood. “This is Skye, father,” he said robotically. “Skye, meet my father.”
His father came forward and stood in front of me. Even though he was no longer young there was something dangerous about him. I had an instinctive fear of him and I had to resist the urge to move backward. I heard him exhale softly. “Now I see why my eldest son was so bewitched.”
“Father,” I heard Luca warn.
His father did not turn to him, he kept his cold eyes on me. “Take it easy, Luca. It was a compliment. If I was thirty years younger who knows… I might have done the same.”
I swallowed hard. I couldn’t understand the undercurrents of their conversation. I clasped my hands together. “I… I was just going for a walk so I’ll leave you both to talk. Please excuse me.”
“Really? It looks as if you’ve hardly touched your meal,” he murmured.
I was shocked by how keen his powers of observation were. I forced a smile. “I realized I wasn’t hungry after all. It was really nice to meet you.”
“Yes, it was nice meeting you too.” His smile didn’t reach his eyes. “All right then, enjoy your walk around the grounds while I have a quick word with my son.”
“See you both later,” I called out, and without looking at Luca I escaped from that sunny room.
I walked down a corridor that led to the front door. Once outside I realized I had no coat on and it was cold. Not as cold as Boston, but windy. The salt filled air blew at me as I walked towards the beach.
Luca was wrong. I wasn’t pregnant. Of course, I wasn’t. The very thought was ludicrous. I was on the pill and more importantly, I was almost paranoid about accidentally forgetting to take it so I was meticulous in my habit. I hadn’t missed a night since the day I went on it.
So I wasn’t upset because I could be pregnant, I knew I wasn’t. I was probably just sickening for something. I was upset because of the way Luca had responded to the idea that I might be pregnant. He looked as if it was the worst news he could ever have heard. The thought clearly horrified him. I could lie as much as I wanted to myself, but it was now undeniable that my only value to him was as a body in bed.
All he wanted from me was sex.
It distressed me greatly and I felt as if I wanted to cry my eyes out, but I hardened my heart. I was just being a fool. What did I expect? He never promised me love. In fact, he made it obvious that he would tire of me quickly.
I could see men in dark suits hanging around the periphery of the grounds. When I reached the sand I walked blindly towards the beach. Once on the sand I took my shoes off and began towards the water’s edge. I was shivering, but I carried on walking until I was walking on wet sand. Seagulls flew overhead as freezing cold waves started to froth around my toes.
I felt so lost. So utterly unhappy. I wanted to scream at the sea.
Suddenly, I felt my skin begin to prickle. I turned around and saw Luca walking towards me. The wind whipped my hair into my face, and I pulled the strands away and held them down.
He came and stood next to me. Taking his jacket off he draped it around my shoulders. His face was veiled and he looked like the unknowable stranger I’d first met at the party.
“You don’t look well,” he said, his voice mixed with the sound of the waves.
“I’m not pregnant.” I told the sea. “I’ve been taking my pills.”
“I’ve sent someone into town to get a pregnancy kit. It is not foolproof at this stage, but I believe it can give a reading even at three weeks.”
I nodded. “Sure, I’ll take the test.”
We walked back to the house together in silence. I wanted to say something, but the words wouldn’t come. At the front door he said, “I have work to do, I’ll see you when the kits come.”
Then he walked down the corridor and disappeared into the depths of the house. I went up to our bedroom and lay on the bed staring at the ceiling. Katie called, but I couldn’t answer the phone. Very soon, there was a soft knock on the door. I went to open it. A dark haired girl in a uniform stood holding a tray.